Wednesday, February 04, 2009

CONSISTENCY OF AWARENESS

It has been a very interesting year. We have been settling into our new city and into our new home. But I have been feeling the need to get back to the blog. So I will start off with something I heard this past Sunday.

Majida and I go into New York City about once a month. We go for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is to take a Tai Chi class on Sunday mornings. The class is given by this little 85 year old lady who was a student of Chen Man Cheng in the early 70's. We cannot get to our old teacher, Ed Young, because he only teaches on Monday night and that is impossible. So we go to his old friend, Maggie Newman. Her style is a bit different from his but just as effective. We do enjoy her classes. She was the one that I heard the title of this blog from.

She speaks very softly so her class of about 20 people was gathered close around her. She was talking about a specific aspect of the Tai Chi form when something reminded her of a story she heard from her chiropractor. Just a little story but poignant none the less. He was telling her about an old woman he knows, in her 90's. She was having memory problems but, when asked if it bothered her she said no, as long as she had consistency of awareness she was fine. What a marvelous thing to say.

On the same day I happened to open a book of Hazrat Inayat Khan's and found the following quote.

"The mystics say that there are three steps to the goal: right life, true life and truth. A person who loves to live a right life and who tries to do it, even if he is not a contemplative or meditative or religious person, must certainly arrive at that high stage, at that goal which is the ideal goal; for within man there is truth, and the seeking of man is truth. Therefore right living helps him to realize truth."

Over the past year it has become more and more apparent to me that the things we do to prove to ourselves that we are this or that are the most important things we do. One of the things that people in the spiritual business do is remind ourselves that we are spiritual because of our outward signs of spirituality. "I meditate every morning" or "I love to take retreats," or "I read spiritual books," or any of a myriad of reminders that tell us that spirituality is a part of our lives. I suppose all of these things are important but, as Pir O Murshid notes above, not really all that necessary. If you are drawn to meditation then you meditate. If you are not drawn then don't do it. But, as the lady noted, the most important thing is not any of these outward signs. Consistency of awareness is the most important spiritual practice there is. Buddhists call it Mindfulness, Sufi's call it Muhasaba (Pir Vilayat defined this as examination of conscience), I call it paying attention.

If you are paying attention, consistently asking yourself what you are doing at each moment then you will get very close to living in the moment. It is a difficult practice because it demands absolute internal honesty on your part but just because it is difficult does not mean it should be avoided; on the contrary, knowledge of self is the result. And the best part is no one need know you are doing it.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir

3 comments:

Eklutna said...

Yes!!! Only one thing I disagree with: if you really do pay attention, everyone will know it, whether or not they think they do....or something like that!

Love,
Amidha

Sarala said...

I agree with Amidha, in fact, some of my closest friends comment that I am the most pay-attention person they know. Some of them admire it, some of them think it's excessive.

Welcome back. I missed your musings.


Love,
Sarala

mullebutz said...

This makes me think of the lady running the chinese restaurant my husband and I like to go to. I have often admired this woman in her work, because I can see and feel how present she is in every move that she makes. Wether she serves a beer or takes an order, there is an energy about her that says "I am here in this moment, I am aware of what I am doing and of my environment". There is such an amazing grace, and beauty and loving attention in her work. When I feel stressed out and I can feel myself going into all directions at once and getting nowhere this way, then I sometimes think of her and tune myself into that energy. That's when I know that no matter how much there is to do, and no matter how big the worries, nothing else matters but the present moment and then everything flows smoothly into one direction and all directions at the same time. By making the present clear and "present" everything else becomes clear too. That's also when I can see progress. If I am constantly in the past or the future with my thoughts, how could I possibly be aware of my achievements of the moment ? I will feel the should have's of the past that are beyond my reach and the need to's of the future that are not yet within my reach but not the "is getting done" of the present. And yet, that present moment is the only moment I can actually do something about anything. In that sense - carpe the moment ...

Blessings ;-) Karin